Arizona Hospital Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion

[deleted account] ( 22 moms have responded )

Arizona Hospital Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion

Updated: Sunday, 16 May 2010, 10:20 AM EDT

(NewsCore) - A nun at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix, Arizona was automatically excommunicated after approving an abortion be performed on a patient in order to save the woman's life, The Arizona Republic reported Saturday.

Sister Margaret McBride, who was also a long-time administrator at St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, has also been reassigned to other duties, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese said.

The incident occurred late last year when McBride was consulted -- along with doctors -- in the case of a young woman who was 11 weeks pregnant.

The woman was suffering a life-threatening condition which was likely to have caused her death had she not had an abortion.

"In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother's life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy," hospital vice president Susan Pfister told the newspaper.

Pfister issued the statement on behalf of the hospital, its parent company Catholic Healthcare West, and the Sisters of Mercy, McBride's religious order.

Olmsted confirmed McBride was "automatically excommunicated" because of her involvement in the abortion.

"I am gravely concerned by the fact that an abortion was performed several months ago in a Catholic hospital in this diocese," Olmsted said.

"I am further concerned by the hospital's statement that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother's underlying medical condition.

"An unborn child is not a disease. While medical professionals should certainly try to save a pregnant mother's life, the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child. The end does not justify the means."

Excommunication forbids the person from participating in church life, including receiving communion, and can only be remedied through an appeal to the Vatican.

It is normally resolved by a statement of repentance.


Thoughts? Opinions? I saw this on the Today Show this morning, but I don't recall this story from the local Phoenix news.

I'm on the fence with this one. 1) The story is vague and does not indicate the life-threatenting condition the mother had. Could it have been treated? Did the mother WANT an abortion? I am curious what the illness/condition was.

2) If an abortion was indeed necesarry in order to save the mother's life, why wasn't she discharged from the Catholic hospital in order to seek an abortion elsewhere?

3) I do agree that the nun administrator did require disciplinary action, as she was the one to make the decision for approval on the abortion. It was a blatent disregard for the hospital and religious policy. Plus, the nun apparently never informed the Bishop of the decision.

4) I do NOT agree that the nun needed to be excommunicated. Removal from her position as a hospital administrator or a temporary ban, certain mission work perhaps. But to be completely kicked out of the church? The reason I think this is something the news segment stated: In comparison to the known priests who were involved in child molestation and never excommunicted, but shuffled around in the church system, this seems like a harsher sentence. The punishment doesn't fit the crime of hundreds of boys who carry their sexual abuse with them versus the abortion on the woman in order to live. Most likely, the woman is suffering in her own guilt-maybe, maybe not.

The article stated the nun was assigned to other duties, but did not indicate what those duties were. So another vague hole in the story.

I hope this doesn't turn into an ugly debate. Ethics were breached, and yes, punishment was needed.


Ava - posted on 06/01/2010




First, I'm sure the mother wouldn't have consented to the termination of pregnancy if she didn't think it was necessary. That means that she, while probably not 'wanting' it, knew it had to be done. Second, it was specific enough in that it was stated she probably would have died if the pregnancy had not been terminated. This tells me that the pregnancy aggravated a previous disorder/disease, or caused a life-threatening disease on its own. Either way, for a nun to approve an abortion, I am SURE she found it totally necessary. This is why I fundamentally disagree with Catholicism. Their religion does not evolve with the times, including proper prevention of STDs, pregnancies, etc. If the nun believed the woman definitely would've died without the abortion, then if it hadn't been performed, the baby AND the mother would have died. I say kudos to her, at least she saved one!

The reason they were so harsh on her is that it involves women. It involved a nun, a mother, and a child. It didn't involve a man and little boy, who they are ALWAYS much more lenient with. The church gets off on the idea of sticking its nose in women's rights issues. It always has. It's a form of oppression that has been prevalent in their religion since its conception.

Rosie - posted on 06/01/2010




so if she would've let her die, the baby would've died as well, sooooo double "homicide" is better than an abortion? fucking whack jobs.

Dana - posted on 06/01/2010




I don't think she should be punished at all. It was to save the mother's life. I'm sure she's not jumping with joy at having to approve of the abortion. What about those who DID the abortion.

Yes, it's okay to molest little boys but God forbid you save a woman's life. The Catholic Church needs to get their shit together.

This conversation has been closed to further comments


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Sharon - posted on 06/03/2010




Its all been said. I just want to add my vote to the count.

Typical male catholics. Let the woman die, she's worthless, now lets go gang bang the alter boys....

Becky - posted on 06/02/2010




Wow! That is absolutely too harsh! I am pro-life and very anti-abortion, but in this case, they said the mother and baby had 100% chance of death if the abortion was not performed. The mother had other children and a husband to live for. It's not like they deprived the baby of a chance at life- that baby had basically no chance at life anyways.
And I totally agree, it is absolutely preposturous that priests get away with sexually abusing little boys and a nun gets excommunicated for making a decision to save a life. Sickening, really!

[deleted account]

I would harken to guess that the fetus was male?

Sorry, I just think this is rediculous! Nearly 100% chance that the baby is going to die, REGARDLESS, of what is done...hmm...hard choice here folks! Plus there have been times when a woman's body has treated a fetus as if it were a parasite/disease that needed to be disregarded...nature does it all on its own but ppl step in and OMG!

I wouldn't blame anyone for running from a church that would make a disclaimer to keep medical personnel from punishment in decisions like this and then turn around and kick them out rediculous! Jenny, I doubt if it were a man he would have been ousted, then again I wonder if he would have wanted to perform the life saving abortion to begin with???

Jenny - posted on 06/01/2010




I wonder if a man would have been ousted for making the same choice? They coddle those that diddle children so I would think so. The Catholic Church does not seem to support women.

ME - posted on 06/01/2010




As a Catholic woman who is pro-choice, I've been struggling with this for a while now...I don't know what to do about SO horrifies me that my church would excommunicate a woman who has dedicated her life to God because she saved someone's life. I have a dear friend who is both a Catholic nun and the chief surgery nurse for a Catholic hospital...I'd like to ask her what she thinks...but I'm afraid I know what she would tell me...This is so upsetting to me that, at times, in the last few months, I've concidered leaving the Church for good. I think that it is shit like this that sends reasonable people fleeing from the church in huge numbers!

Johnny - posted on 06/01/2010




Well, apparently in the eyes of the Catholic hierarchy, a woman is not a real mother unless she's willing to die with her unborn child. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

Joanna - posted on 06/01/2010




And this is just another reason I want nothing to do with religion. *sigh*

Krista - posted on 06/01/2010




Yes, it's okay to molest little boys but God forbid you save a woman's life. The Catholic Church needs to get their shit together.

Agreed. I find it rather disgusting that they just slap the wrists (IF that), of priests who diddle little boys. But when a nun makes a decision that saves a woman's life, they throw the book at her.

And it's easy for that Bishop to say that the ends do not justify the means, when it is not HIS life on the line, nor will he EVER be in that position of having a life-threatening pregnancy.

Dana - posted on 06/01/2010




I know Sharon, I'm sure it was a tough decision for her and now she'll be looked down upon for the rest of her life, even if she is able to repent though out the years and be accepted back into the church. To be honest I wouldn't want to go back or I'd fight like hell to change some things in the church before I did. They should be on the defense, not her.

Sara - posted on 06/01/2010




I do agree with you Sharon. But if I'm being honest, my first thought is "So they'll excommunicate a nun for this, but all those pedophile priests are protected?". It's BS. I can't help but think if it were a Priest in that same position he would not have been excommunicated, but only disciplined. The Catholic Church is the biggest boys club in the world, after all.

[deleted account]

Above all, I feel sad for Sister Margaret who had to make the decision. I am sure this will haunt her for the rest of her life. This is apparently a women who gave her life to the Catholic Church and is now being shunned by them. So what happens to her? Does she become homeless if she is asked to leave her order?

Amie - posted on 06/01/2010




Wow... Another smear for the Catholic Church.

Why did the Bishop excommunicate her before even looking at everything? I didn't see them (or to this day even, there was another case here in Canada last winter? fall? around then) excommunicating the pervert priests. /:)

I think the punishment is way too harsh. Especially given the circumstances. I do think the writer gave a little creative spin with not being able to be moved to an operating room (since they can wheel you in on your bed and move you themselves) but I can see being moved to another hospital being a problem.

It's wrong for the nun to be excommunicated. Their Directive 47 protects her. Not that they care. I doubt even pissed off parishioners would sway their decisions.

*Lisa* - posted on 06/01/2010




Woah!!! That is just BAD. And very sad for this nun! Although, perhaps it's good for her to be able to get away from that rubbish! I can't believe the part about the pedophile priests not being excommunicated but a woman saving another woman's life was!

Dana - posted on 06/01/2010




It's ridiculous really, I'm hoping they'll have to eat crow. Doubt it though if it's anything like the molestation scandals that have been going on for years. The Church does what it wants, not what is right.

[deleted account]

Thanks for adding more detail to the story Dana. So according to the church officials, it would be far BETTER to have this young mother die and leave her 4 living children motherless?! So frickin' sad! And according to the article, the nun utilized Directive 47 in the U.S. Catholic Church's ethical guidelines for health care providers — that allows, in some circumstance, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother. So if this policy is in place for scenarios like this, WHY was the nun punished so harshly? I also question the fact that the patient was too ill to even be moved to the operating room. So, WHERE did the abortion take place? The emergency room? It's sad that there is a double standard.

Sarah - posted on 06/01/2010




Having read the more in depth article, i'm even more of the opinion that this nun was treated FAR too harshly by the church.
She was put in a difficult position. The mother would have died without the termination, i personally think she did the right thing.

Excommunicating her is just cruel if you ask me, as others have pointed out, Catholic priests have done awful things and "got away with it" so to speak.

*Lisa* - posted on 06/01/2010




Hehe I kind of agree with all that you said ;) At first I was like 'OUTRAGE! She shouldn't have been excommunicated! The mother was going to die unless she had the abortion!' But then you made those valid points about it being very vague and maybe she should have transferred her to another hospital straight away.

I still think it was harsh to excommunicate the nun! But then again, she has vowed to uphold all of the ideas that Catholicism entails.

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